Employees who undergo retrenchment do later on become stigmatized as poor work performers.

Gone are the days when employees worked under permanent and pensionable terms which were terminated on retirement. From the turn of the new century, market dynamics, aggressive competition and technological advancements are compelling organisations to continuously determine optimal staffing levels.

Employees constantly put ears on the ground for rumours of a looming restructuring or drums of retrenchment. Faced with the Catch 22 scenario, employees keep on wondering whether to resign or wait for the dreaded retrenchment. Here are five food-for-thought ideas to consider before jumping ship or waiting for exit orders.

Preparedness for Other Pastures: Many employees nowadays are continuously upgrading their knowledge and skills for work beyond the current employer. Some are busy going to evening classes to acquire academic and professional qualifications that can be cashed either in the local labour market or outside the country.

When attractive employment opportunities arise, prepared employees tender resignations “to pursue other interests”. Only to find that they have joined the current employer’s competitor who may have poached them at colossal remuneration terms.

Unfriendly Working Environment: Despite regular employee satisfaction surveys, some employers continue to promote working environments that defeat the achievement of organizational missions and objectives. In the employers of choice rankings, a number of employers will hold and stick to the tail for breeding emotionally toxic workplaces.

The level of employee engagement tends to diminish with employees spending productive time searching for  greener pastures. When invited to the new pastures, employees proudly bid farewell with elevated shoulders to the uncaring employer.

Rise of Side Hustles: When the conditions of full-time employment became as unpredictable as weather conditions in our country, employees began running side hustle businesses. The moment these businesses show signs of survival beyond the entry stage, some employees say “bye” to paid employment to become their own bosses. Others would combine the hustles with the current employment either to make ends meet or prepare a “soft landing” when retrenchment knocks the door.

Changing Work Patterns: Employers are gradually buying into both flexible working hours and working from home jobs which do not require an employee’s physical presence in the office. Progressive employers have used the opportunity to request employees to become external contractors for services they offer.

Employees have continued working with the same organization but in new terms that enable them balance work and family life. What a silent way to resign from a full-time job and get it back through a convenient contractual arrangement!

[ READ: Company launches co-working corporate offices in Nairobi

Stigmatization of Retrenchment: Employees who undergo retrenchment do later on become stigmatized as poor work performers, a factor which may have prompted the previous employers to exit them. Although retrenched employees leave employment with legally-calculated lump payments including salary in lieu of notice, they have nothing else to smile about. On reflection, the victims of downsizing wish they had studied the economic trends of the employing organization and prepared for any pending offloading of excess human capacity.

For organizations in sectors which are prone to technology-driven changes, retrenchment is a potential possibility that could be declared anytime. The onus is on employees to regularly examine the relevance of their competencies for future employability in the open labour market.

Samson Osero is a Human Resources Development Consultant. Email: [email protected]

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